I originally signed up for my health insurance plan through eHealthInsurance.com, a helpful service that enabled me to browse and compare numerous plans from a number of different providers. At the site, you can specify various plan features (deductible, co-pay, etc.), view a list of plans that satisfy those parameters, and compare the plan details.
It's a great concept. Unfortunately, it has nonetheless frustrated me. The reason is that the service focuses on the features of health insurance plans rather than addressing real-world scenarios.
This morning, I went to eHealthInsurance.com to research alternatives to my existing plan. I brought up various plans but scratched my head when trying to determine what they would and wouldn't cover. So I called their customer service to speak to a health insurance "agent".
The agent immediately asked me what I wanted in a plan. I told her that I don't know and suggested we walk through various scenarios and see which plans best covered them.
- I get into a car wreck, suffer massive internal injuries, and go to the hospital for surgery.
- I get a minor cut on my leg and go to a minor emergency center for stitches.
- I go to the doctor for a routine check-up.
- I go to the doctor to get a prostate exam (leaving aside the fact that the one prostate exam I've received was the most unpleasant experience in my entire life).
At this point, I told her I was frustrated. She was assuming I was an expert on health insurance concepts. All I know is that there are various types of scenarios. Some plans address them well, and others don't. Co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket limits mean nothing to me except insofar as they affect the bottom line in these types of scenarios.
Though she initially refused to walk through the scenarios with me, she effectively did by the end of the conversation. I felt educated enough to compare plans and make a decision. Despite the fact I was still seething with frustration, I thanked her for her patience.
What product management lessons does this experience teach? I'll examine some of them in a future entry.